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Weapons of Control: Preventing Use of Technology in Workplace Violence

16 May. 2018 Posted by aadams

Gwen Mueller, Director of Information Technology

New kinds of technology can serve as checklist items for business compliance and security, but they can also provide opportunities for bad actors to control others in the workplace.

Digitally controlling others through harassment, intimate image abuse, stalking or surveillance is a form of workplace violence. Internet-enabled locks, cameras, lights and room sensors are technologies that already exist, but have little regulation on use. For an employee, this can turn a room for shelter into a weapon of control.

Even outside of the workplace, internet-enabled homes can be used to abuse and control victims. This abuse takes away any safety and security at home.

What can you do, both as an organization and as an individual? Try applying some of
these techniques:

  • Prevent risk of unauthorized access with strong computer and system firewalls, patching and antivirus updates, and encrypting camera feeds.
  • Require that every employee (or home user) with systems access have a unique account. Passwords should always be changed from factory-set defaults, and reset every time there is staff turnover.
  • Organizational policies and procedures should consider how long an employer will retain footage or access logs, or how access to these resources will be limited. Prevent voyeurism, stalking and discriminatory targeting by limiting which employees have access to images and access logs as well as controlling how far back such data can be obtained.
  • Consider too how often the information technology department will review access logs.
    An organization’s audit timeframe—how often you decide to check when systems are accessed and by whom—will decide when possible hidden threats or patterns of abuse
    are discovered.

Violence in the workplace, and especially violence against women, is a topic being discussed with more urgency across the country. These important conversations need to include how to avoid systems abuse along with physical violence prevention.

Make sure your organization isn’t caught unawares.

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